Why the vuvuzela doesn’t quite cut it as an SPP

Which term in today’s title is less familiar to you–vuvuzela or SPP?

If it’s SPP–which stands for Signature Participation Project, the initial calling card of Transformational Giving–click here and check out our past posts on the subject to get up to speed. They tend to be the most popular posts on the blog, so perhaps they’ll inspire you even as they inform you.

If it’s vuvuzela, then likely you’ve steered well clear of the present World Cup Soccer competition.

The vuvuzela–defined precisely at Wikipedia as “a blowing horn up to approximately 1 m (3 ft) in length generally producing notes at the 465Hz and 235Hz frequencies”–has become the unofficial soundtrack of this year’s World Cup, drawing protests from athletes (the French captain claimed his team lost because his team couldn’t sleep the night before the match due to the noise) as well as, at last count, 87,523 voters at banvuvuzela.com.

Generally, not much love is lost for the vuvuzela at Wikipedia, which does not describe the instrument in the most flattering terms:

They have been associated with permanent noise-induced hearing loss and cited as a possible safety risk when spectators cannot hear evacuation announcements, and they may spread colds and flu viruses on a greater scale than coughing or shouting. Vuvuzelas have also been blamed for drowning the sound and atmosphere of football games. Commentators have described the sound as “annoying” and “satanic” and compared it with “a stampede of noisy elephants”, “a deafening swarm of locusts”, “a goat on the way to slaughter”, and “a giant hive full of very angry bees”.

Should you like to hear the sound for yourself without having to be subject to a soccer game, you can check out Vuvuzela Time!, which makes it possible for you to add the sound of the vuvuzela to any website you visit. (No mention is made of why you’d want to do this, but perhaps the answer is so obvious to vuvuzela fans that it would be silly and redundant to make it explicit.)

A fair question would be:

Why talk about the vuvuzela on a site dedicated to fundraising?

The answer has to do with a little-noted aspect of the vuvuzela controversy, namely:

Would you believe it’s intended as an SPP?

By some, anyway. The CT blog quotes Tinyiko Maluleke, president of the South African Council of Churches, as noting that the horn is “forcing the world to wake up and acknowledge Africa’s past sufferings”:

“In the 19th century, white missionaries sided with colonials and gave blacks the Bible, while they took the land. Now, we have created the vuvuzela, which is one of the most obnoxious instruments: very noisy; very annoying. It will dominate the World Cup,” Maluleke said recently in Edinburgh, Scotland, during the 2010 World Missionary Conference.

“I see the vuvuzela as a symbol — as a symbol of Africa’s cry for acknowledgement.”

The challenge–from an SPP standpoint–is that most spectators don’t quite see the symbol the same way:

Said one man, 26-year-old Hendrik Maharala of Johannesburg: “I feel like an African when I blow the vuvuzela.”

Said a woman, 21-year-old Jessica Dyrand: “I love the noise.”

Said another South African, 23-year-old Sazi Mhlwaitka: “It’s our way to motivate players, to express happiness and how do you feel in the stadium.”

From an SPP standpoint, the learning is this:

SPPs must be understandable without external reference.

That is to say, in order to be an effective SPP, you ought to be able to figure out–without even asking–what the guy next to you has in mind when he blows the three foot plastic trumpet so loud that you lose your hearing. (In this case, you really need to be able to figure out what the cause is without asking, since it’s hard to be heard over the roar of an earnest vuvuzela.)

The goal of an SPP isn’t ink or fame. It’s spreading your cause. And it’s important to remember that those two goals aren’t synonymous.

Moral of the story: Be slow to celebrate, vuvuzela organizers. You may have received heaps of press coverage about said horn, but when only one article makes any mention of your cause, that’s a PR tragedy, not a triumph.

About Pastor Foley

The Reverend Dr. Eric Foley is CEO and Co-Founder, with his wife Dr. Hyun Sook Foley, of Voice of the Martyrs Korea, supporting the work of persecuted Christians in North Korea and around the world and spreading their discipleship practices worldwide. He is also the International Ambassador for the International Christian Association, the global fellowship of Voice of the Martyrs sister ministries. Pastor Foley is a much sought after speaker, analyst, and project consultant on the North Korean underground church, North Korean defectors, and underground church discipleship. He and Dr. Foley oversee a far-flung staff across Asia that is working to help North Koreans and Christians everywhere grow to fullness in Christ. He earned the Doctor of Management at Case Western Reserve University's Weatherhead School of Management in Cleveland, Ohio.
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One Response to Why the vuvuzela doesn’t quite cut it as an SPP

  1. Pingback: Three New (Slightly Flawed) Signature Participation Projects I Like and How to Make Them Better | Transformational Giving

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